We've been selling beautiful Indian bedspreads for over 40 years! We opened our first store in 1974 with minimal stock: a waterbed we'd made from recycled timber joists, striped Indian dhurrie rugs, handmade pottery from a wonderful man called Don Rushton, rush matting, art nouveau posters that I'd block mounted, recycled Spanish wine glasses, a few handmade candles, cards - and Indian bedspreads.
This purple bedspread is made from Mangalgiri cotton, handwoven on pit looms in a small region near Hyderabad in South India. It's a special cotton, very fine yet strong, that can only be woven at a certain time of year when the humidity is right. The next bedspread is a heavier quilt, sumptuous red and black corduroy velvet with gold overstitching.
Other things have gone by the wayside but we've never stopped selling Indian bedspreads. We don't have photos of the originals so all the photos here are from our current collection. The first time we went to India we simply fell in love with the amazing fabrics of that diverse country.
The simple embroidered motifs of elephants and peacocks on the red bedspread are a delightful use of satin and chain stitch, the repetition of the pattern gives a vibrancy and energy to the design. Next to it is a silk bedspread made from a patchwork of old Ikats. Ikat is the extraordinary weaving technique where the weft, and sometimes also the warp, threads are the dyed before the cloth is woven. Many countries across Asia from Indonesia to Uzbekistan claim to be the originators of this painstaking textile form.
Striped, printed, checked, jacquard loomed, tie dyed, silk, cotton, jute, embroidered, appliquéd, handwoven, sequinned - the textile tradition is more imaginative and varied than you could possibly imagine. Different regions, different castes, different religions all produce their own individual styles. If you want to see the amazing regional variations of Indian textiles, I'd recommend a trip to the sari collection at the Craft Museum at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.
Not many people go there and it needs some love and attention but the fabrics are breathtaking. The soft print on the next bedspread is from Andhra Pradesh in South India, and the printing technique, using vegetable dyes, is called kalamkari - which means drawing with a pen, although it actually uses carved wooden printing blocks. The white quilt next to it is also made from Manglagiri cotton like the purple one above.
Vibrant colours, rich earthy natural dyes, almost colourless neutrals, deep indigos, strident clashing colours and the subtlest of contrasts, they're all there read to fit in with any style from Boho to utterly ethnic to minimal contemporary. A looser weave cotton has been used on this heavier patchwork quilt where a whole collection of different stripes, checks and the odd jacquard weave have been combined to make a delightful earthy red winter fireside look.
Next to it is an example of the creativity of modern techniques, for this quilt a programmed sewing machine has been used to embroider a repeat motif of blue stitchwork on a white background, these panels have been combined with hand embroidered kantha style stitching, white on a blue background.